1980s — CIA’s covert Operation Cyclone funnels weapons and money for the war through Pakistani dictator Mohammed Zia-ul Haq, who calls on Muslim countries to send volunteers to fight in Afghanistan. Bin Laden is among the thousands of volunteers. 1983 — President Ronald Reagan meets with mujahedeen leaders, calling them freedom fighters, at the White House. "Less-well-funded governments and other strains of Islam can hardly keep up with the tsunami of money behind this export of intolerance," Murphy said. al-Qaeda, Arabic al-Qāʿidah (“the Base”), broad-based militant Islamist organization founded by Osama bin Laden in the late 1980s. Al-Qaeda began as a logistical network to support Muslims fighting against the Soviet Union during the Afghan War; members were recruited throughout the Islamic world. When the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, the organization dispersed but continued to oppose what its leaders considered corrupt Islamic regimes and foreign (i.e., U.S.) presence in Islamic lands.